May 5, 2007

Somebody finally reads Obama's Dreams from My Father

On the liberal Washington Monthly blog, Kevin Drum admits that Obama's autobiography isn't what he expected:

I've read Dreams From My Father, Obama's autobiographical "story of race and inheritance."

... You'd think that after reading an autobiography you'd get a better sense of the author. But I didn't. In fact, there's a very oddly detached quality to the book, almost as if he's describing somebody else. This is clearest in the disconnect between emotions and events: Obama routinely describes himself feeling the deepest, most painful emotions imaginable (one event is like a "fist in my stomach," for example, and he "still burned with the memory" a full year after a minor incident in college), but these feelings seem to be all out of proportion to the actual events of his life, which are generally pretty pedestrian. Is he describing his real feelings? Is he simply making the beginning writer's mistake of thinking that the way to convey emotion is to use lots of adjectives? Or is something else going on?

Another oddity is that we get very little sense of what motivates him. In 1983, for example, he decided to become a community organizer, but says in the book only that he was "operating mainly on impulse." Even with the benefit of a decade of hindsight, the only explanation he can offer is that it was "part of that larger narrative, starting with my father and his father before him, my mother and her parents, my memories of Indonesia with its beggars and farmers and the loss of Lolo to power, on through Ray and Frank, Marcus and Regina; my move to New York; my father's death." That's not very helpful.

There's just something very peculiar about the book. I can't put my finger entirely on what it is, but for all the overwrought language that Obama employs on page after page, there's very little insight into what he believes and what really makes him tick. It was almost as if Obama was admitting to his moodiness and angst less as a way of letting us know who he is than as a way of guarding against having to really tell us. By the time I was done, I felt like I knew less about him than before.

As I've pointed out, the most straightforward explanation of Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance" is that he's telling the truth in his book: it really is all about race for Obama, which is why white pundits don't get it. In sharp contradiction to the media's happy-clappy chatter about him, he doesn't transcend race, he's obsessed with it.

On the other hand, maybe he's a con-artist who says different things at different times, or a manic-depressive who truly feels radically different things at different times. Who knows? But the man is running for President, so we ought to find out.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


dearieme said...

You've had the dreadful two-duds-in-a-row of Clinton and W. Do be very careful about making it three.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, who knows? How about, for a change, telling us which, if any, of the Republican candidates you favour, and/or your impressions of this week's debate?

Anonymous said...

I think it would be interesting if the three Dems left standing were Obama, Richardson, and Clinton. The black/hispanic dynamic (issues of authenticity, the pandering, economic issues, Bill Clinton's legacy as the first "black" president etc.) would be fun to watch...I pretty much have an equally low opinion of all politicians, so at least - for my amusement if nothing else - I'd like to see how some sensitive issues get brought up in the political mud-throwing game to the presidency. I'm so sick of the abortion "debate" on the right, I'm looking forward to the Democrats...Political campaigns are just like Jerry Springer with a lot more money and power being thrown about. I watch for chair throwing and fights.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that few people on the race realist right don't bring up the subject of whether a black man can even win the Dem nomination, let alone the general election.

Iowa and New Hampshire are upwards of 90% white and so will the Dem caucus goers be.

How can we be certain that a black, racist, potential Muslim with ties to Jesse Jackson and a nutball black pastor, named Barak HUSSEIN Obama is going to go over well with white populist, worker rights Democrats in Iowa and white libertarian Democrats in New Hampshire?

Iowa and New Hampshire also have strong isolationist leanings.

Obama's "Let's send white Oklahama Boys to die for Darfur and Africa and everywhere else because we did the same for Europeans and you DO NOT want me to scream the magic word RACIST you white pigs" interventionist foreign policy will not go over well either in isolationist states.

If you look at the state by state polls, Edwards not Obama is in second or first place in the primary states.

My bet is that the nice White guy with the cute blond kids from North Carolina will emerge as the anti-Hillary in 90% white Iowa and New Hampshire, not Osama bin Baraka Saddam Obama.

Anonymous said...

New Hampshire is going Left, so that may help Obama. Obama's Black Nationalist/Separatist background, his pastor, his church will likely help him with radical chic leftists.

So even though both NH and IA are 90% white the influence of the left-leaning Primary should not count Obama out. If anything electing him so "people will be nice to us" will play big. Note how Obama courted the Nutroots by declining to say he'd nuke anyone if the US was nuked.

Sid -- Rudy seemed to be the fave coming into the Debate, I don't think his have it both ways answer on abortion hurt him despite the best efforts of Matthews and Politico to deep six him. The Media/Dems (same thing) hate and fear Rudy cause he won in NYC.

Rudy: the tough on terror candidate who is both competent and has a record. Reps like him because he gets things done. He's socially liberal, not their cup of tea, but they like his toughness particularly on Gitmo, and domestic anti-Terror where McCain is weak. Three times divorced but that means nothing these days. The front runner still.

McCain: supports the Iraq War but otherwise the weakest on the War on Terror. Wants criminal trials and full civil rights for terrorists, hence his "pursue him to the gates of hell" comment about Osama. Reps are deeply suspicious about him far more so than Rudy.

McCain was the golden boy "Maverick" of the Press which made Reps hate him (Press is deeply Dem). A few more articles by the Press about McCain being awful might actually help him not hurt him, but the "Rudy is nuts" stuff overshadows that (the Press has hated Rudy for years and so Reps like the guy in response). McCain-Feingold hurts him, so too does his generally liberal image without Rudy's "I'll get tough with em" image.

Bottom line: Reps don't trust him.

Romney: Empty suit like Obama. He's Mormon and thus not electable nationwide any more than Obama is. Unlike Dems I think most Reps are realistic about this. No one is excited about him and he's not "tough enough" to win IMHO.

Fred. Not in the debate but also has a tough and competent image. Red meat to anti-Immigration and here's where Fred can pull away from the others by "enforcement first" which is something neither Romney, Rudy, or McCain can say.

IMHO Reps are looking for candidates with good communication skills, an authentic on-camera personality, competence and toughness. The anti-GWB if you like. Or a Rep Harry Truman.

Dems IMHO are on their endless quest to redo JFK and the "magic of Camelot." It's rather pathetic and sad if you think about it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, but I'm hoping Steve will nail his colours to the mast and [i]big up[/i] his man. I'm guessing it's Ron Paul.

Anonymous said...

Hussein Obama? I guess that really is the man's name.

We need to take Steve's idea that Hussein is a con man seriously. Some of us can spot a con almost instantly, but most people can't.

It's pretty clear to me that Obama's a con man, almost as smooth in his own way as the man who occupied the White House through most of the 90s.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, maybe he's a con-artist who says different things at different times

You mean, a politician?

Myself I'm betting Sailer likes Tom Tancredo. I call betting pool!

Anonymous said...

Myself I'm betting Sailer likes Tom Tancredo.

I'd be disappointed if Steve endorsed a candidate who does not believe in evolution, as we learned in Steve's column this weekend. I understand how important the immigration issue is to many people, but let's not pick some yahoo ignoramus just because he's right on one issue, however important it is.

Otherwise, yeah, I'd love to hear Steve's choice, too; but I bet he holds off for a while. Jeez, it's still 18 months to the election. This race is peaking way too early (just like Obama!).

Anonymous said...

The Tank is a dear, but he as good a chance of becoming POTUS as I do.

The only major candidate I would even think of voting for is Fred Thompson who I am mildly positive towards - for now.

Anonymous said...

You can't have a President called Fred Thompson. Too English 19th century.

Anonymous said...

Duncan Hunter is actually a strong paleo candidate, but he is not smooth enough. He has a knack for choosing the correct side of most issues. He is even a bit of a protectionist.

I almost think he is against the Iraq war at this point, not because he didn't like it, but that he understands it is so screwed up that we are all wasting our time now.

Between the big three I basically like Romney, but I have lived on the west coast for some time now and we have a reasonable number of Mormons. I knew many Mormons in law school. They are really very, very nice people.

Anonymous said...

Why do you not allow comments on your most interesting posts?

Witness the first two on the top of your page at the moment.

Please give us the pleasure of commenting on every post!

Anonymous said...

I believe Steve tries to limit discussions which might invoke philo- vs. anti-semites to about once a fortnight. Steve's very conflicted on the subject himself, and there's only so much [i]iron in the soul[/i].

Anonymous said...

Finkelstein is currently down the hall (literally) and, as usual, he is yell-lecturing. He is so very annoying. (see WSJ article to understand why this is posted here)

Anonymous said...

So, Sideways, how did you come to be at a third rate university?

Anonymous said...

Barack's fixation on his "blackness" and his emotional upsets over it remind me of the wimpy black guy we all knew in high school. You know the one. First to cry "racism" in any instance, despite having a relatively privileged background (i.e. high yellow). He's a self-obsessed narcissistic nigger who smokes 2 packs a day and is forever defending his non-existent dignity.

As to the White voters of Iowa and New Hampshire - ha!

They'll vote for B. Hussein in droves, to prove they're not "racist." To show how "accepting" they are. To be popular. These are people whose political attitudes mirror those of Time and Newsweek. I call it: B. Hussein in a mudslide.

Matt said...

Perhaps Obama is unique in growing up not-black, then deciding to be black, and then giving up on the whole quandary.

Not many people can claim to be black and not-black in the same lifetime.

I have to say though, Kevin Drum actually backed up his claim of Obama being "overwrought" in Dreams from My Father, which was good.

Re previous comment: ugh.

Anonymous said...

Matt, what's the evidence Obama has "given up on the whole quandry"? Because the punditry says so? Because you feel it? Because you WANT it to be so?

Seriously, the preppie from paradise is race-obsessed. Still.

Re your willful ignorance: ugh.